Rabbits are everywhere! No matter where you live, you likely have them in or near your geographical area. They live on every continent except Antartica and there are over 305 different breeds found in over 70 countries. These cute little animals can actually teach us a good bit about our own leadership.
Rabbits are situational awareness experts
Rabbits can turn their ears 180 degrees to pinpoint the exact location of a sound and have nearly a 360-degree field of view. These two traits keep them safe from predators. They are very aware of their surroundings and react incredibly fast when things change around them.
A lack of situational awareness has cost employees promotions, leaders their careers, and organizations their existence. Normally the downfall is because they have developed blind spots that lead them straight to a predator. Some areas where people/companies grow blind spots include:
Favoritism that causes bad hires and promotions.
Failing to adapt to the changing needs and desires of the customer.
Learning new skills to stay relevant in your field of study/work.
Keep aware of your surroundings and be ready and willing to move and adjust as necessary.
The reproducing thing is true.
The phrase reproducing like rabbits is quite a true statement. Rabbits can begin reproducing as young as 4-6 months old and it only takes a little over a month for a new litter to be born. Poland recently used the phrase as a marketing campaign towards its own citizens in an effort to grow their population numbers. Time has a funny way of catching up to us and rabbits certainly don’t waste a moment.
We should be the same in our efforts to reproduce great leaders. We sometimes think we aren’t worthy enough or we need to hold a certain level position before we are afforded the right and authority to influence and grow new leaders. You can build and influence new leaders no matter where you are in your career stage in an organization. Don’t waste time. Grow and build stronger leaders around you daily.
Each rabbit has a unique personality.
Rabbits have a unique personality and can be excited and happy that they binky. (Look it up on YouTube to waste a few minutes for cuteness) They can also become very bored, especially if they are an indoor pet and can’t get environmental stimulation.
No matter where you go as a person or leader in your life, never lose what makes you unique. Don’t sacrifice who you are to become what you believe someone else wants you to be. I love growing and replicating leaders, but I will never ask you to become and act just like me. It’s ok to have people you look up and want to emulate but do it in a way that lets you be you.
Be the rabbit. You are a unique individual on this planet that should stay aware of your surroundings and grow, build and strengthen other leaders for the betterment of others.
Turtles are among the most diverse creatures on the planet. How many species of animals can you name that live in the ocean, land, lakes, and swamps? Not very many for sure. They are associated with being wise, committed, although a bit introverted. Here are some leadership lessons we can learn from these creatures.
They are determined.
Growing up in Louisiana, I lived in the country where we had box turtles that came through every year to lay eggs. You could pick them up and turn them around in the opposite direction and they would pull themselves in their shell, wait it out, turn back around and head in the original direction they were going. Sea turtles make the trek every few years to lay eggs at the same beaches, no doubt navigating a determined journey to get there in the process.
When life picks you up and turns you around, how do you react? Do you pick yourself up and keep moving or let the person/circumstance keep you down? The tortoise famously beat the hare in the children’s story because of its slow and steady commitment to moving forward while avoiding distraction. Stay determined to hit your goal or reach your journey. Don’t let discouragement set in when you don’t see immediate results or something doesn’t go as planned.
They need to struggle to survive.
Many turtles must struggle, some as soon as they are born, in order to survive. You’ve likely seen videos or pictures of volunteers helping on the shore as sea turtles hatch and make their crawling journey to the ocean. Why don’t the volunteers pick them up and place them in the ocean to help them out? The turtles are too weak to survive the ocean current when they are born. They gain their strength to swim during the struggle to make it down the beach.
It’s a lesson that I believe we need to be reminded of as we go through our own personal and professional struggles. Those struggles make you a stronger, wiser and more resilient individual for the future. Remember that as a coach, teacher, parent, and/or leader that your job isn’t to make the struggle or pain go away, you are there to help equip the person to rise up from the struggle. Otherwise, the person never gets strong enough to truly move forward.
They look forward because they have no choice.
Because of the turtle’s unique body structure, they have a fairly limited range of view and little to no hearing. They have to look forward because they really don’t have any other choice.
Wouldn’t that be nice at times? When we struggle, face defeat, and when things don’t go our way, we have a tendency to look back and focus on all the things that went wrong. “If only I had done ______ differently.” Follow the turtle’s lead and keep yourself forward-focused. Learn from your past to change your future, instead of letting it distract you from making progress towards your goals.
If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will gain. -Neil Gaiman
We love our set routines and the relative safety that our jobs provide. I know I do. The best leaders don’t settle for status quo and are great risk takers for their organizations. It’s not done haphazardly without intent. It’s planned, weighed and executed. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Here are some areas to consider when taking risks.
It’s important to be well informed before you make a decision. Think through all the avenues possible on what the outcome would be. You don’t have to be totally sure about an outcome. Do you know how much certainty we needed to know about something in the military before making a decision? 60%. You would think it would be a lot higher but sometimes you just can’t get 100% confidence that what you want to do will work. (And that would likely make it not a risk) Realistically evaluate how much risk is involved and what the potential consequences could be.
It’s also important to partner with others during the process. If it’s a big choice, involve your upline leader and include experts inside and outside your business or industry. If it’s a smaller choice, involve your leadership team and perhaps an outside perspective.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Starting out, I had a love/hate relationship with taking risks. I loved the idea of thinking up new ideas and strategies, but I absolutely hated failure. Hated it! The result was that I would come up with a lot of new ideas and then not really do anything about them. Don’t make my mistake: Accept failure as a part of the process of taking a risk. Once you do, you are truly freed to try new things. I eventually got over failing and then became a pro at it!
Here are some things I tried and failed at translating to widespread success:
Replicating a New Years at noon event in retail stores for kids.
Recycling gift cards and reselling them as guitar picks.
The first iteration of my time management course.
Multiple bands after my first successful one.
Utilizing social groups as a marketing avenue beyond the local level.
I’m sure if I really thought about it I could easily list 15-20 more. I heard a great statement from a Disney Imagineer once on ideas and failures. “A good idea never dies.” He gave examples of how some ideas took 30 years to come to life. Could some of those failed ideas above come back at some point? Maybe so (and some already have). The great thing is the knowledge of how many great things have come out of taking some risks.
Sometimes the “failure” is just a stepping stone.
Look no further than the Passing the Baton podcast and this newsletter as your example. Listen to the first PTB episode and listen to the newest. Although the content is relevant, there is a significant difference between then and now. The same goes for the newsletter. If you’ve been with me for the nearly 4 years that these have been going, you’ll find the first year unrecognizable from today. Don’t let perfection keep you from starting a new thing or trying something different.
There are some risks that are out there that could harm your company and/or personal progress. If you take the right partner, follow your integrity, your policies, and your mission, then there should be very little that you would do that could not be fixed later.
So go ahead and step out there. Your risk may be the next big world-changing idea.
Chick-fil-a is quite a different fast food establishment. They are incredibly profitable, they have ridiculously long, but fast, lines at lunch and the company can’t open them fast enough. They are also closed on Sunday forgoing even more profits in order for their people to rest and go to church.
What makes CFA so successful is that they chase excellence in everything that they do. They are more concerned about delivering a high quality, consistent experience than partnering up with the latest movie or kids show out there. CFA’s changes to their menu are very intentional and they do little limited-time fad items that so many other chains rely on for traffic.
Chick-fil-a is so successful because they ignore the competition and focus on their own level of excellence.
Success is measured against others.
Success is very often tied to a measurement against something or someone else. You can see it in all stages of your life.
What was your academic rank in high school?
How did you or your team place in a sporting event or tournament?
How many other candidates did you beat to get the job?
How did you do compared to last year’s numbers?
Where are you on the average salary scale?
How much is your house compared to the average listing in the city?
These are just a few of the ways that we measure success in our lives and in our leadership. The items listed above aren’t bad things. The problem with aiming for success is two-fold. First, while success can create more success it also creates a cycle where you are never truly satisfied. Secondly, success might not be your best.
Excellence is measured against yourself.
Shooting for excellence requires a bit more discipline. You can’t become distracted by what others are doing or what success they are having. You and your team have to focus on being the best that you can be. Excellence is about bringing out maximum potential and consistency in what you do. If a runner eats well, trains hard and represents him or herself well before and after the race are they a failure if they come in fourth? That person will walk away with a sense of accomplishment because they gave it their all. A person just looking for success walks away with disappointment.
What you and your team do should be measured up against your potential, not what others have done or even what you’ve done in the past. Once you shoot for excellence, your goals begin to fall in to place and you have a greater level of satisfaction.
Success is not bad. I want you to be successful in life. Chose the right mindset as you work towards your goals. Excellence will always set you apart in how you represent yourself, your company and your customers will notice.
Make a better tomorrow. -ZH
**Today we celebrate our 150th episode of Passing the Baton Leadership Podcast. Thank you all who have supported us for over three years. If you don’t get the podcast, you can download it for free at all major podcast outlets or listen to it on your CPU by clicking one of the links below. In a way, it feels like we are just getting started and have several new things in the works for the future.
The level and depth of your relationships with others is a guiding factor for your success.
As we’ve moved through each of the three previous sections of EI, you likely noticed that each built on the one before it. That is certainly the case with relationship management. Social awareness, self-management, and self-awareness feed into success here. You may see a conflict explode at work, school or home and it roots in the person’s lack of skill to navigate the relationship successfully. It’s like a computer that gets an error and locks up. Unfortunately, you can’t control, alt, delete your way out of these scenarios.
Understanding Relationship Management
Relationship management is the ability to build value-adding relationships with others. Notice that I didn’t say friendship. A person strong in this area understands and realizes the value of building relationships even with people that they don’t get along with. Unless you work in a very small people environment, you’ll likely have someone that you interact with that you don’t totally get along with.
Example of low Relationship Management “John makes a decision about a person and that’s it. There is no changing his mind. He sees you as an ally or enemy. If he sees you as an enemy, he will let others know and will not put the effort to establish any kind of relationship. He reacts to people instead of responding to them. “
Example of high Relationship Management “John is an artist when it comes to people. Everyone he interacts with feels valued and know that they matter. Even when John is not happy with an outcome, he communicates it in a way where you know how you missed the mark, but he’s not angry. I think I feel worse about it because I let my leader down, and I hate letting John down. He owns mistakes and is complementary to me.”
Tips to increase your Relationship Management
Back your decision up. When you make a decision, especially if you know it may not be a popular one, explain the whys behind it so that others understand where you are coming from. Also be open to listen to their concerns and be prepared to change if needed.
Be proactive with the inevitable. When you see a conversation that needs to happen inevitably, the time to connect on it is now. Time has a way to fuel the problem and it ends with you and/or the other party boiling over. I would rather take on a small problem than a work-stoppingly large problem that it morphs into later. When you have these conversations, be direct without emotional attachment and be sure to include your strengthened empathy and listening skills that you’ve picked up.
Build trust. A couple of ways to build trust in a relationship is to first be willing to accept feedback in a constructive way. When you show that you can’t take feedback well, you lose the trust of the other person and they no longer want to help you get better. The second is to own your mistakes and failures. If you are a leader you may have to own a mistake that you didn’t even make the decision on. Being willing to do the small things like apologize, say thank you and appreciation go a long way.
Acknowledge where the person is. This was an area I was really bad at before. Someone comes to you and tells you what they are going through and you do your best to quickly move on from the conversation. It may be because it makes you uncomfortable or you don’t know what to say. Simply acknowledging the emotion or struggle is a great starting point.
Combine your relationship management skills along with social awareness, self-management, and self-awareness to bring your career (and personal life) to new satisfying heights.
The ability to read a room is just as important as the ability to read a book.
Social awareness is all about that guy. You know the one. He is the person that just misses everything that’s going on around them in a conversation. It’s as if they are in a totally different meeting yet they are sitting right beside you. They are usually to themselves too much or linger around too long. Luckily this is a skill that we can impact and influence.
Understanding Social Awareness
Social awareness is the ability to see someone’s emotions and understand what is really going on in the conversation. Have you ever walked away from a meeting or conversation to later find out that the true meaning of what was communicated was not at all what you took away from it? Social awareness is the skill to see all those things while you are in it at the moment. You are contributing and correctly accessing as things unfold. It’s one thing to analyze a conversation from afar than it is being right in the middle of the conversation. Social awareness helps you to stay sharp in your surroundings.
Example of low Social Awareness “Well, a big thing is that John needs to listen to what’s going on in meetings instead of thinking about what he is going to say. He’s dismissive of others if it’s a different perspective or idea from his own. He gets so caught up in his own thoughts that he doesn’t notice the nonverbals going on around him. Sometimes he’s not very social and other times he lingers too long.”
Example of high Social Awareness “John is a great active listener. You can just tell that his mind is not somewhere else when he is with you. He can pick up on the emotional undercurrent in meetings and conversations and addresses those in a way that is both respectful and load lifting. He’s very good at understanding what’s going on around him.”
Tips to increase your Social Awareness
Watch for the non-verbals. A person needing stronger social awareness may come across as awkward or out of touch. This is because they often miss the non-verbal social cues. Watch for body language cues that the person is ready to move on from the topic or conversation. Continuing to make your point no longer adds any value and hurts relationships with enough repetition.
Work on your listening skills. Another key area to a victory in social awareness is great active listening skills. Remove all the distractions in your mind and focus strictly on just listening to the other person. Don’t worry about formulating your response here. Show the person that you are listening through your non-verbals and confirmation or clarification on key points that they make. (More help on listening can be found in Passing the Baton Leadership Podcast #60 Listening.)
Feel the mood. To navigate a social setting well, you need to understand the feel of the room well. If its high energy, you don’t need to come in like an Eeyore. If it’s a serious business meeting or personal matter, you may want to leave the jokes at the door. Your demeanor and communication should match up to the feel.
Be fully in the moment. Make sure that you are fully there physically, mentally and emotionally in the conversation. That may mean to pack up the laptop and put away the phone so that it’s not a distraction. It may mean not taking extensive notes in a meeting. Do what needs to be done to ensure that you are fully in the moment with the person. Many people miss things because they have their head in a computer or their face glued to a screen.
Great social awareness makes your meetings more enjoyable, your conversations more valuable and your reputation stronger.